Ambassador bids a quiet farewell after 2-year tenure
Updated: 2016-01-06 08:18
By An Baijie(China Daily)
Unlike Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who has blazed a trail on social media with nearly 180,000 Chinese followers on his Sina Weibo micro blog, the country's ambassador to China prefers a low profile, both online and offline.
Ashok K. Kantha's approach, as he prepares to leave China on Thursday after a successful two-year tenure, has helped ensure the success of "hometown diplomacy", a phrase capturing the essence of relations between the leaders of the two countries.
However, the ambassador has opened a Sina Weibo account, attracting about 120 followers.
His quieter approach was evident at a farewell reception on Monday evening, at which Kantha, who is retiring, gave no speech. Instead, he chatted with more than 100 guests from diplomatic, military, academic and media circles for nearly three hours.
He became Indian ambassador to China in January 2014. Before this, he was secretary to the Indian Ministry of External Affairs.
According to sources at the Indian embassy, he will be succeeded in Beijing by Vijay Gokhale, the Indian ambassador to Germany.
Kantha has witnessed improved communication between the leaders of China and India. President Xi Jinping made a state visit to New Delhi in September 2014, while Modi visited Beijing in May last year.
The ambassador said, "The two visits showcased the high level of personal rapport between our leaders and coined a new term - 'hometown diplomacy'. Modi has met with Xi and Premier Li Keqiang as many as eight times over the past 18 months," Kantha added.
Aided by the ambassador, Modi, an enthusiastic fan of social media, has seen his popularity soar among Chinese Internet users after his Sina Weibo account was opened early last year.
On May 15, Modi uploaded a selfie with Li during a visit to the Temple of Heaven in Beijing. The micro blog entry attracted more than 107,000"likes" and was forwarded 67,000 times.
(China Daily 01/06/2016 page3)